Powell River Project Symposium highlights coal mine reclamation efforts

Blacksburg, Va. The Powell River Project Symposium, a conference on how to improve reclaimed surface-mine lands in Southwest Virginia's coalfield region, will be Wednesday, Sept. 6 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at The University of Virginia's College at Wise in Wise, Va.

Some of the questions to be addressed at the conference include how goats can fight invasive plant growth on land once used for surface mining and how miners can re-establish native forests on these lands.

"The symposium will feature Virginia Tech researchers who are studying methods for restoring mined sites to productive uses while maintaining environmental quality. At the symposium, those researchers will communicate their findings to coal industry, natural resource agency personnel and, to area citizens," said Carl Zipper, associate professor of crop and soil environmental sciences at Virginia Tech and director of the Powell River Project.

Ozzie Abaye, associate professor of crop and soil environmental sciences, and graduate student Matthew Webb will begin the conference with a presentation on "Use of Goats to Control Invasive Vegetation on Mined-Land Pastures."

Other speakers from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will be Kurt Stephenson from the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, who will give a presentation on "Mitigation Planning Association: A Cost-Effective Mechanism for Mitigating Stream Disturbances by Targeting Watershed Restoration Needs," and W.L. Daniels from the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, who will discuss "Management of Post-2000 Coal Combustion Products in Mined-Land Environments."

Matt Carroll and Ben Bradburn, graduate students from the Department of Forestry in the College of Natural Resources, who conducted environmental restoration design activities under the supervision of faculty members Caroline Copenheaver and Mike Aust, will describe the results of those efforts in a presentation on "Black Creek Riparian Restoration Plan." Their colleague James Burger, a forestry professor, will speak about "Developing Scientific Knowledge to Aid Mine Reforestation Practice."

In addition, speakers from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy will describe activities done collaboratively by their two agencies that utilize the results of research conducted by Burger at the Powell River Project. Their presentation on "The Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative: A Cooperative Approach to Enhancing Reforestation on Coal Surface Mines" will end the conference.

A full schedule is available on the Virginia Tech Events Calendar (http://www.calendar.vt.edu/main.php?view=event&eventid=1153158923354).

Since 1980, the Powell River Project has included research and education programs to enhance restoration of mined lands and to benefit communities in Southwest Virginia's coalfield region. Its 1,100-acre center is a hub of research programs focused on developing practical, cost-effective solutions to natural resource problems in central Appalachian coal mining areas and education programs operated through Virginia Cooperative Extension that put completed research into practice.

The Powell River Project works collaboratively with other educational entities in the area, including The University of Virginia's College at Wise, where the symposium will be held.

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For more information about the symposium or other programs affiliated with the Powell River Project, contact Carl Zipper at czip@vt.edu or (540) 231-9782.


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